HR Strange But True!
April 26, 2007

Smokers who work at the Honda plant in Marysville, Ohio, one of the largest factories in the world, have had to make adjustments in the past couple of months. First, the SmokeFree Ohio law went into effect on January 1, prohibiting smoking inside places of employment. And then in February, Honda banned outdoor smoking at its facility, including the parking lots, which is permissible under the new law.

So what's a die-hard smoker to do? Dozens have taken to jumping into their cars on their breaks and at lunch, driving outside the facility gates, and parking on the shoulder of the road to puff. While this seems innovative, when 30 or more cars are parked along Honda Parkway and Route 739 between 10:30 and 11 am, these access roads to the plant become clogged and a safety hazard, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Some parked cars held multiple smokers, while other workers and contractors milled outside their cars to smoke.

"I'd rather smoke than eat," one worker spending her lunch hour on the road is reported as saying, while others said that they were smoking even more due to the stress of having to comply with the ban--and faster--so they can smoke more cigarettes in a shorter time.

The problem was anticipated when the outdoor ban was made, according to company spokesperson Edward Miller, who says 10,000 employees and contractors work in the facility, with about one third of them smokers. "Our major concern wasn't the number of people, which is really small, but the parking on the side of the road," Miller explains in the article.

Honda does have "Destination Wellness" program for employees that offers free smoking cessation classes, treatments by acupuncturists and hypnotists, and nicotine patches, but only about 40 people have signed up for the services since the smoking ban went into effect, according to the report.

Marysville Sheriff Rocky Nelson wasn't too happy when Honda asked for his department's help with the situation, according to the article. It is currently not illegal in the county to smoke on the side of the road, which is not posted as smoking prohibited. Nelson was aware of the problem, but had hoped Honda would handle it internally so his officers wouldn't have to be "bullies."

Honda will try again to end the problem by sending letters to employees pushing smoking cessation services and discouraging the "park and smoke" practice, according to Miller.

And why doesn't Honda just rescind the parking lot ban? It wouldn't allow equal access to the outdoors for smokers, Miller explains in the article, because employees near the center of the huge building can't make it outdoors in 10 minutes, and there is "no running allowed."

Source: Columbus Dispatch

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